Marvel Studios' schedule is in flux.
Avengers: Infinity War shifted its May 4th release date to its new April 27th release, assembling Earth's mightiest heroes one week earlier than planned. Avengers 4, slated for May 3, 2019, remains unchanged.
The studio announced Thursday one untitled project, previously slated for August 7, 2020, has been moved up one week to July 31, 2020.
The Disney-owned powerhouse also announced half a dozen new movies, staking flags on release dates between 2021 and 2022: May 7th, July 30th, and November 5, 2021, and February 18th, May 6th, and July 29, 2022.
Guardians of the Galaxy franchise writer-director James Gunn confirmed Vol. 3 will hit screens in 2020, and other than Spider-Man 2, it's the only Phase 4 title currently identified.
Marvel's yet-to-be-released slate, as it stands now, is below:
Avengers: Infinity War (April 27, 2018)
Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6, 2018)
Captain Marvel (March 8, 2019)
Avengers 4 (May 3, 2019)
Spider-Man 2 (July 5, 2019)
Untitled Movie (May 1, 2020)
Untitled Movie (July 31, 2020)
Untitled Movie (November 6, 2020)
Untitled Movie (May 7, 2021)
Untitled Movie (July 30, 2021)
Untitled Movie (November 5, 2021)
Untitled Movie (February 18, 2022)
Untitled Movie (May 6, 2022)
Untitled Movie (July 29, 2022)
Marvel will stick to the three-a-year philosophy throughout at least Phase 4, launching with the untitled Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel in July 2019. It's unknown when Marvel will formally unveil the above titles, but there are some likely suspects.
Black Panther 2
One of these dates undoubtedly belongs to the Black Panther sequel, following the massive and groundbreaking success of the Ryan Coogler-directed film.
Black Panther now stands as the third highest-grossing Marvel Studios movie domestically, making a follow up an obvious priority. Black Panther has a lengthy list of shattered records to its name, including an enormous three-day weekend of $201 million — the biggest February opening ever.
Marvel could look to replicate that success and dominate in early 2022 by slating Black Panther 2 for February 18, 2022.
That's far off, but not unprecedented: most Marvel sequels have two to three years between installments, with the longest gap between sequels being four years between Thor: The Dark World in 2013 and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017.
Now that Chadwick Boseman's Wakandan superhero is an uncontested A-lister, the performance of Black Panther could see Marvel confidently drop his sequel during prime time movie-going season in the summer: May 1st or July 31, 2020 and May 7th or July 30, 2021 aren't out of the question.
Another obvious contender is a third Spider-Man solo, which Spidey star Tom Holland has confirmed is on the way.
Spider-Man: Homecoming swung into theaters July 7, 2017, and its sequel has webbed up a similar release date of July 5, 2019.
That makes July 30, 2021 the likely date for Spider-Man 3, with May 7, 2021 coming in as the runner up.
Doctor Strange 2
Like most Marvel Studios filmmakers before him, Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson is expected to return for a sequel.
Though nothing is set in stone, Derrickson told ComicBook.com he would "absolutely" steer the ship a second time, telling us, "I would love to do Doctor Strange 2. We'll see. We'll see what happens."
The sorcerer, played by fan-favorite Benedict Cumberbatch, will play a major role in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4.
Doctor Strange grossed nearly $700 million in 2016, and his involvement in the Avengers sequels will only boost his profile further — meaning Doctor Strange 2 isn't a question of "if," it's a question of when. His first solo movie released in November 2016, making a November 6, 2020 or November 5, 2021 bow likely.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said Marvel would "love" to tackle another trippy Doctor Strange adventure, but it "won't be for a while."
"Our focus is on the next six movies," Feige told Collider in October. The plan, Feige said, would be to get Avengers 4 out "before publicly focusing on anything else."
Captain Marvel 2
Academy Award-winning actress Brie Larson will make her debut as Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel, March 8, 2019.
As Marvel Studios' first — and so far only — female-led film, Marvel could be planning for the future and expecting Larson's superheroine to be a heavy hitter on par with DC's Wonder Woman.
Shortly after making her debut in Captain Marvel in March, Larson will step into the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe when she joins the fray months later in Avengers 4.
That high profile boost could lead to a sequel taking any one of the 2021 or 2022 dates, especially May or July, as it's likely Captain Marvel won't be a one-off like The Incredible Hulk.
January brought word Marvel is developing a Black Widow movie to star franchise veteran Scarlett Johansson.
The pending movie is in "very early development" and has yet to receive the greenlight — in other words, an official go ahead — but screenwriter Jac Shaeffer was expected to meet with Johansson last month to discuss the super spy-slash-Avenger's first solo outing.
Early rumors pointed to a 2020 release date for Black Widow, putting it at May 1st, July 31st, or November 6th.
Marvel can and will dominate on any of those dates, and if a 2020 date and past release schedules hold true, we could see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 on May 1, and Black Widow July 31st or November 6, 2020.
Thor star Chris Hemsworth wrapped filming on Avengers: Infinity War and its sequel in January, fulfilling and ending his Marvel contract.
That month, Hemsworth said threequel Ragnarok reinvigorated his enthusiasm for the role.
"If I had the opportunity to do it again," Hemsworth said, "I think I’d love to."
Marvel has yet to delve into fourquels — Avengers 4 will be their first next summer — traditionally sticking to trilogies for their solo characters, who are then free to appear in team-up films (like Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark not headlining his own movie since Iron Man 3 in 2013, appearing only in team-ups or as a supporting player in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming).
But nothing about Thor: Ragnarok was traditional, and director Taika Waititi is on record as saying he'd "love to do" another Thor film. With the character and his mythology rejuvenated, a Thor 4 could very much be on the cards.
Ant-Man and the Wasp is expected to be another giant-sized Marvel hit when it opens in July, making a second Ant-Man sequel likely.
Ant-Man and his high-flying partner Wasp will star in their own upcoming ride at Hong Kong Disneyland — suggesting Disney will continue to have big plans for the small superheroes.
If Marvel sticks to their three-year schedule for Ant-Man, we could see the Ant-Man and the Wasp sequel May 7th or July 30, 2021.
The newest heroine to join the MCU, expect Wasp to be another character getting a profile boost after linking up with Earth's mightiest heroes in Avengers 4. There's nothing to say Marvel has to give Paul Rudd's shrinking and growing hero his own trilogy, but his continued involvement with the wider MCU suggests there continues to be a big future ahead.
Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 will serve as a culmination for the Marvel Cinematic Universe up to this point, according to Feige, who said the pair of films will serve as a "giant conclusion" and at the same time introduce "an entirely new direction for the future."
In November, the Marvel chief told Vanity Fair the Infinity War sequel will usher in a new era for the MCU, saying Avengers 4 will split "two distinct periods" in the ongoing universe.
There will be "everything before Avengers 4 and everything after," Feige said, adding, "I know it will not be in ways people are expecting."
Avengers 4 could serve as the climax of such big, long form storytelling — a decade's worth of movies have lead to it — and could see Marvel give way to smaller scale movies in a post-Avengers 4 world that don't involve the end of the world.
Does that mean Marvel forgoes the team-up event film entirely — or, at the least, for a while — ruling out a fifth Avengers? Maybe.
If not, May 6th or July 29, 2022 are as good a time as any to get the band back together — even if it's likely a team we don't recognize.
X-Men and Fantastic Four
Disney's $52.4 billion dollar purchase of 21st Century Fox would see Fox's Marvel properties — including the X-Men, Deadpool and the Fantastic Four — revert to Marvel Studios' control, who would then be free to integrate them into the Marvel Cinematic Universe once the regulatory process surrounding the deal is completed.
Unless some sort of undisclosed deal has been made behind the scenes — one that would see Fox cutting a deal with Disney regarding the Fox-controlled Marvel properties — the earliest Marvel could officially start development on a Fantastic Four or X-Men film would be December 2018.
That's if that regulatory process, which could take between 12 and 18 months, runs smoothly and the merger is completed this December; if not, Marvel's X-Men or Fantastic Four reboot would be put into motion sometime in 2019.
That doesn't rule out a 2021 release date for Marvel Studios' take on mutants or Marvel's First Family, but one of the three 2022 dates could be more likely — if they aren't already filled by sequels, which would probably take precedence for the studio.6comments
Feige once had a plan for the cinematic X-Men franchise that Fox neglected to follow. Who's to say he's not ready to bring the superhero team to life as soon as possible?
Black Panther is now playing. Avengers: Infinity War opens April 27th, followed by Ant-Man and the Wasp July 6th. Captain Marvel opens March 8, 2019, followed by Avengers 4 on May 3rd, 2019, and the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel on July 5, 2019.